Where are the Credit Union People at SXSW?

I first attended the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas in 2012. 

“The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals offer the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW® is the premier destination for discovery.”

Every year since, I've attended with Gene Blishen, the General Manager of Mount Lehman Credit Union, where I am the board chair. While this is not a credit union conference, I can think of no better place for the leadership of my credit union to learn about the future and what role our small credit union will play in it. And yet, when I scan through the more than 70,000 people on the attendee list, I do not see many other credit union professionals in attendance. I see plenty of bankers and fintech players on the list. However, where are the credit union people at SXSW?

It's by no fault of my own. I can't tell you how many credit union people I have encouraged to go. "Wow, that sounds awesome, I'd love to go someday," is the common refrain.

For an industry full of people that feel threatened by the coming fintech disruption and feel the need for fresh ideas and reinvention, you'd think SXSW would be a natural place to get the creative juices flowing. Instead, the industry continues to naval gaze. While local, regional and national credit union events are fine, what are you doing to get outside of your own industry?

Here's my favorite talk from this year. You may initially think this doesn't have anything to do with credit unions. Hang in there, it absolutely does.

Distributed: A New OS for the Digital Economy by Douglas Rushkoff
Digital tech was supposed to usher in an age of prosperity, but so far it has put industrial capitalism on steroids. Social networks surrender their missions to data mining, and banks abandon investing for algorithms—all to stoke growth. Startups sell for billions but destroy more jobs and markets than they create.

With more than 3,000 speakers, SXSW can be overwhelming! Here's some of my favorites this year. (Top row) President Barack Obama (2nd row) YouTube founder, Steve Chen; film director and producer, JJ Abrams; scholar, author and speaker, Dr. Brene Brown (3rd row) United Nations' innovator, Brent Dixon; Slack founder, Stewart Butterfield; Affirm founder, Max Levchin (4th row) creators and cast of HBO's Silicon Valley, White House CTO, Megan Smith.  


With more than 3,000 speakers, SXSW can be overwhelming! Here's some of my favorites this year. (Top row) President Barack Obama (2nd row) YouTube founder, Steve Chen; film director and producer, JJ Abrams; scholar, author and speaker, Dr. Brene Brown (3rd row) United Nations' innovator, Brent Dixon; Slack founder, Stewart Butterfield; Affirm founder, Max Levchin (4th row) creators and cast of HBO's Silicon Valley, White House CTO, Megan Smith.  

 

I'll be first in the (digital) line in August to buy my tickets and book my room for SXSW 2017. How about you? I'd love to see more credit union people take advantage of this amazing annual learning opportunity.

Tim

Tim McAlpine lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. He is the President and Creative Director of Currency Marketing, an integrated marketing agency specializing in helping credit unions attract the next generation of members. Tim is best known as the creator of Young & FreeIt's a Money Thing, and CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec. He is also a co-founder of the CU Water Cooler.